The 13-year-old girl from a poor family in north India has enrolled in a master's degree in microbiology, after her father sold his land to pay for some of his daughter's tuition in the hope of catapulting her into India's growing middle class.
Verma finished high school at 7 and earned an undergraduate degree at age 13 - milestones she said were possible only with the sacrifices and encouragement of her uneducated and impoverished parents.
"They allowed me to do what I wanted to do," Verma said in an interview Sunday, speaking her native language of Hindi. "I hope that other parents don't impose their choices on their children."
Sushma lives a very modest life with her three younger siblings and her parents â eating, sleeping and studying alongside them in a cramped single-room apartment in Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh state.
Their only income is her father's daily wage of up to 200 rupees (less than $3.50) for laboring on construction sites. Their most precious possessions include a study table and a second-hand computer.